The Importance of Proper Review Requests from a Reviewers Perspective.

Review requests may seem like a tedious and pointless exercise but they are essential to getting reviews. Let me explain why. Even as a new reviewer I get several requests for reviews everyday. Right now four or five requests isn’t a lot and by any means overwhelming. However, I am not a full time blogger or reviewer. I have a full time job, two kids and writing of my own to do. I review books to build brand awareness and helpbook3 out fellow authors.

When I get a request I don’t want to do the work. I want all the information right there in the email I received. If there is additional content you think might interest a reviewer include a link; never rely on that for all your content and descriptions. If I am busy I won’t click it. If I have a lot of requests I won’t click it.

Unfortunately reviews like everything else today is a numbers game. Your request is easily lost in the crowd. Make your request stand out. Tell the reviewer (briefly) why you are a writer or why you wrote your novel, something, anything, (relevant) to grab their attention and make you stand out.

The other thing to keep in mind is to research your reviewer. Pay attention to their preferred genres so you aren’t wasting everyone’s time. If the reviewer says they will book1consider books outside their genre you should send reasons in your query to convince the reviewer to try your book. Unfortunately, your book is a harder sell than the others. You should also remember if a reviewer typically reviews fiction they probably aren’t your best bet for a non-fiction review unless they specifically list it in their preferences.

I face the same problems every other does. I send out requests and never hear back. Assume if you don’t the answer is either no or not yet. Be patient and wait. Search Goodreads and other internet forums for other sources but never give up. In this blog entry I have included a bad example of a request as well as a sample letter of what I send out.

Not so good:

I found your name on a book review website and am looking for feedback on my YA fantasy. You seemed to like that genre and was wondering if you would like to read it?

What I sent out:

Name,
I am an indie author requesting a review of my second book “For Their Sins”. It is a paranormal fantasy that has a slightly different twist on vampires. It is told from a first person perspective and covers the life of one 300 year old vampire. It was a fun project and a great stretch of the imagination. The ebook format is 428 pages long. It is also available in paperback  and I would be happy to send it in what ever format you desire. The link to the Amazon listing for further content and cover is listed  here.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0716SVRDS The summary is below. 
Alexandria Diego never wanted to be special. She was content to lay in bed with her lover forever. One decision will change everything. Suddenly, Alexandria is launched into a life of infamy, which carries a heavy burden that only she can bear. When a vicious war between her people, the Venandi, and their rivals, the Mordere, breaks out it forces Alexandria to change her tactics and be more cautious. But, when her love is captured by the enemy, Alexandria risks everything to get him back. 
It does contain some mature content. 
I would love for you to read it and hope that you enjoy it. Please let me know if you are interested. 
Thanks
R. Tran
I would be happy to answer questions or offer any advice I can. I haven’t been an author long and I’ve had to learn everything as I go. I would be happy for any advice that others can offer me as well.

Lustre (A Witchlight Novella): Witch in haste…

3.5-star-rating.

Lustre by Jaime Munn is a novella about Nilla Hayes, a witch fueled by sugar. After a disappointing breakup with her girlfriend, who happened to be a werewolf, she’s short on cash and in search of a distraction. A two line text lands her in an unwilling and binding contract with an angel. In Nilla’s world angels aren’t the good guys we are all used to. While Nate the angel is gorgeous he is also a collector of those with supernatural abilities. The book didn’t quite make it clear exactly how the relationship with his collection worked but Nate seemed to gather his subject’s powers and use them for himself giving them a normal life. For some its a blessing, for budding witches like Nilla angels are usually avoided. When one of Nate’s collection gains powers he wasn’t supposed to and suddenly starts killing people Nilla is recruited to find him. Nilla has the normal missteps of any heroine along the way and the book has an unusual twist with a happy ending.

Some of the concepts in this novella were quite new and intriguing. I rather like the idea of a witch converting sugar into magic. It certainly explains where all the raw energy could come from instead of some mysterious force in the universe. An angel as the antihero but not the villain was a great twist as well. Nate wasn’t evil per-say but  he wasn’t someone I would invite for dinner.  That he was scary powerful was a given and Nilla kept reminding the reader throughout the book.

There were a few writing issues that could mostly be overlooked; just a sentence or two that had to be re-read to understand what the author was trying to say. I really enjoyed the novella for the most part. It was the ending that killed me and pulled down the rating; it felt very anti-climatic. The author spent alot of time building up the heroine the angel and the villain. He set clear expectations of what they could and could not do. He also made sure you were sufficiently scared of his villain. Nilla and her friends go into the last “battle” ready to die and nothing happens. There is no fight, no argument, and no real magic on Nilla’s part. (Spoiler Alert) She laid a trap and it worked. Nate came and took care of everything the end. Granted it was a neat and tidy ending and probably the most logical way for it to end but readers don’t like neat and tidy. At least I don’t like neat and tidy. Its probably too many years reading epic fantasy. Who knows?

It won’t keep me from reading another Witchlight Novella but another ending like that would. For the most part its a good quick read with some interesting ideas. A side story on Nate might be an interesting read as well Jaime.

Buy Now

Find out more about the author at:

http://www.jaimemunn.com/

http://fb.me/fantasynextdoor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15997812.Jaime_Munn

Finding Peace ∼ a short story conclusion

Princess Samantha strode through the halls of the castle for the first time in three years. Once in her rooms she sent for her servant Anne. She pulled off her fox wrap and laid it across her bed. Anne stepped inside her room. “My lady you’re back.”

“Anne would you be so kind as to send for Carolyn and ask her if I could borrow a black dress. Please have some dinner sent up for me then take the rest of the evening off I shall not need any help dressing.”

“Yes mam.”

Carolyn stepped into Samantha’s room “Sam is it really you?”

“Carolyn I missed you.”

“You’re a woman. James will be relieved to see you. But where have you been?”

“Avoiding my destiny. God I’ve been so stupid.” Samantha said sitting on her bed. “I’ve messed everything up and now I did not even get to say good bye.” Sam sobbed.

Carolyn had two children now and Diana was pregnant with her first. Samantha barely recognized her two younger siblings and her father’s illness had wasted him away to a shell of a man. Even if she had made it home in time she would not have known him still she could have said goodbye. James yelled at her for over an hour about disappearing. Samantha didn’t care about that all she cared about was how deeply she knew she’d hurt her father. Every free moment she prayed for forgiveness somehow she hoped he would hear her.

Samantha was brought out of another silent prayer when James said King William and Prince Richard were already on their way. She was to be married in three months. She’d already resigned herself to give up Vincent but to do so, so quickly was too much. She was doubly over in mourning.

The funeral was a long drawn out affair. Samantha hadn’t seen Vincent in the crowd and was thankful she couldn’t bear seeing him so soon. She would have to face him eventually but not today. After arriving back at the castle she trudged up to her rooms wanting to be alone. She’d never been so sad in her life.

Anne waited for her but Samantha wanted nothing. When she said so Anne grew worried. “But you had no breakfast miss you must eat. I’ll get you tea and biscuits.” She offered.

“Thank you” Samantha was surprised by the change. The girl always hated her before she left. Of course Samantha was not very nice to her then. Anne returned quickly setting down her tray. “Anne,” Samantha waved her over. “Sorry for the way I treated you before. It was not right.”

“No need your highness.”

“I want you to have this.” She handed Anne a silk hair scarf the girl always admired.

“I can’t,”

“I know, but take it anyway, you always liked it.”

“Thank you my lady.”

“Anne I promise no more gifts but I will be nicer.”

“Thank you my lady,” Anne smiled and slipped out of the room. Sam looked to the fox wrap draped over a chair and smiled. A shadow slipped across her door and the door slammed shut, the key ground in the lock. She rushed to the door. “James? What are you doing? Let me out.”

“You’ll stay right there until the prince arrives and he can keep an eye on you. I won’t let you escape again.”

“I will not run, let me out.” He started to walk away. “James really where would I go? Why would I go now when I’m the one who came back?”

“The driver said he picked you up at a Count Vincent’s house. I don’t know who he is but you are not going back.”

“A man James?”

“Yes we all know how my sister feels about marriage; yet another reason to keep you here. But tell me Sam why fight so hard to get out if the man meant nothing to you?” He walked away.

“I just want to say goodbye.”

 

Carolyn came the next morning to let Anne in with their breakfast. She sat down across from Samantha at the breakfast table. And waited for Anne to leave. “What happened while you were gone Sam? James mentioned a count.” Samantha sighed and told Carolyn everything that happened as they ate breakfast. Carolyn looked to Samantha finally “I am sorry I can not let you out.”

“But all I want is to say good bye.”

I know Samantha but marriage is built on trust and James trusts me to keep you here. I will see that he gets a letter though.”

“Oh thank you  Carolyn.”

“To say goodbye only no rescue attempts.”

“I came back for the good of my people.”

Carolyn got up from the table “I know it’s hard to do what is right but what you are doing will save countless lives.”

“Thank you Carolyn.”

 

Vincent received a letter from Meredith and went to the library to read it alone. He settled into his chair before opening it.

‘Dearest Vincent,

I am afraid I bring bad tidings. It is with a heavy heart that I must say we can not be together. I am afraid that even under other circumstances our relationship was doomed from the start. A very wise woman once told me that a marriage was built on trust and trust is built on honesty. I fear that neither of us were being very honest with the other. The time has come for me to tell you my secrets. I am Princess Samantha. I ran away before my 15th birthday because I did not wish to marry anyone let alone a man I never met. At that time I thought of only myself and what I wanted, or should I say did not want.

Then I met you and you changed that. Suddenly I cared about more than myself. It was innocent at first, I merely wanted to make you happy. Then we became friends. I was happy when I found out you were getting married and rearranged the room I’d started. But one night as I lay in bed thinking I found myself picturing the two of us entering the room together. I tried to avoid you then but you were persistent.

I came to realize I loved you but did not want to cause another woman to lose such a fine husband. I threw myself into my work then hoping only to finish the room before you could do something rash. Then it was too late and I found myself hopelessly in love and lost in dreams of you. Your marriage proposal woke me most frightfully, pulling reality back down around me and you witnessed my horrid reaction. For that I am truly sorry. The next day I decided to run away with you. When I went to market I intended to buy supplies to ready our escape. I’m afraid my selfish ways had returned. But as I walked that long road I heard the peasants speak of their troubles: their illness and hurts, their children’s hunger and husband’s hard work. I heard also of many who’d moved here from the border towns to escape the strife and struggle my marriage was to end. An old woman sat in a rocker still moping over a long dead son lost in a border dispute some ten years ago. Ten years and she still greaves. I could prevent such sorrows. I could return home and help my future husband make the world a better place. So you see my love, I have learned my most valuable lesson too late to spare you grief but just in time to save so many others.

I will always cherish the love we had and can only hope Prince Richard is as good a man as you. Go to your bride and be happy always. I will keep you in my prayers for a long and happy life.

Love,

Your Meredith

 

Vincent sighed as he ran his hand over the royal seal at the bottom of the letter. There was no question it was her handwriting and it certainly explained a lot. He went to the desk in the corner and immediate wrote a reply.

Carolyn knocked on Samantha’s door and waited for a reply. She answered drying a few tears. “There is someone here to see you.” Samantha looked confused as Carolyn opened the door wider.

Samantha brightened when she saw Henry behind her “Henry, but what are you doing here?”

“My lord asked me to deliver this message your highness.” He smiled at her as he handed her the letter.

“Thank you Henry would you like to have a seat?”

“Thank you highness but I do not think you will be so happy to see me once you read what my master has written.”

“I can not hold you responsible for Vincent’s actions besides I already know it says farewell.” She said sitting down.

“My lady will make a fine queen, its no wonder my master tried to steal you away. Goodbye Miss Meredith I hope I will see you again soon.”

Samantha smiled “I would like that Henry.”

“Your majesty” he bowed to Carolyn as he left. Carolyn closed the door as Samantha opened her letter.

Princess Samantha,

How I long to call you Meredith and yet that is not your name. Please forgive me when I say that is always how I will think of you. I understand why you have left but admit it does not make it any easier. You are a better person than you give yourself credit for and will make a fine queen. I pray Prince Richard is worthy of such a noble woman. I want you to know that I will always love you first and foremost but will comply with your request. I will try to be as loving a husband to my unknown bride as I would have been to you.

Always,

Vincent

 

Samantha let the letter fall to her lap numb. She knew what it would say but had not expected to feel the emotion it contained. It hit her again as it had the first night: he was gone. Soon he would be replaced by a man she’d never met. A man she’d never met by no one’s fault but her own. She started to cry but didn’t really care. She flinched when Carolyn touched her hand. Samantha had forgotten she was there. “I can see why you fell in love with him.”

“Oh Carolyn,” Samantha sobbed.

 

Less than a week later the castle was in an uproar. Prince Richard arrived earlier than anyone even James expected. Samantha didn’t really care what she wore but Carolyn insisted she wear a fine blue gown to bring out her eyes. She chattered on and on about how certain aspects of their marriage would be better if they found one another attractive. Samantha was suddenly worried, somehow that aspect of married life had been forgotten. It was one thing to be the man’s queen and right hand; at his beck and call during the day. That she could submit to but would the marriage bed be so easy. Samantha turned to Anne who had brought the news of his arrival. “Have you seen him Anne?”

“The prince my lady? No but the others said he was quite dashing.”

“Now you’re worried?” Carolyn asked.

“I’d forgotten certain things.” Samantha admitted.

Carolyn smiled at her “I’ll talk to James and see if we can slow things a bit. Just get through this first meeting things will get easier from there.”

“Thank you Carolyn.” Samantha said turning back to her mirror.

 

James had Prince Richard tied up with business when Samantha finished so she decided to wait in the small garden behind what used to be their father’s apartments. Her lute was tucked inside its brass trunk before the door just where she’d left it. It needed tuning but was all right. She strummed up a few notes but could not bring herself to sing. The playing was enough to soothe her nerves though. In a short time her troubles were forgotten. “You play so beautifully.” She glanced up and glimpsed a young man she assumed was the prince.

“I’m sorry the maid was supposed to send for me when you were finished.” Samantha apologized as she set the instrument aside. She stood to greet him and saw a familiar face. “Vincent? What are you doing here?” she eyed his clothes. “And pretending to be the prince my brother will have your head.”

He smiled easily ignoring her comment “You look beautiful Samantha.”

“This is hardly the time. You may be able to fool my brother but what happens when Prince Richard arrives?”

“Samantha I am Richard.” She stared at him. James came into the garden with King William beside him.

“Ah Richard I see you’ve finally met my sister.”

“Richard?” Samantha asked.

King William leaned over to James “She’s not slow is she?” James shook his head confused. Samantha was never slow witted. Her tongue was usually quicker than was good for her.

“Its true then?” she whispered to Richard and he nodded. She threw her arms around him without thinking.

“Well now she seems an affectionate girl.” King William commented.

“Thank you for putting it so delicately.” James said staring at his sister. Samantha let Richard go a little embarrassed.

“Would you excuse us?” Richard asked. King William pulled James away by one arm finding some excuse.

When they were alone Samantha smacked him on the arm. “What was that for?”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Instead you let me think I lost you forever.”

“You lost Vincent.” He said as he escorted her to a seat. “Besides your letter arrived opened I could only assume mine would too and I did not want anything to jeopardize the treaty especially now that I knew you would be my bride. The only person of importance I met as the count was your father and confessed it to him after your birthday. He understood my concern and I told him of the home I’d purchased for you. He said you still did not want to meet me which I guess was true since you ran away but that he would send you when you were ready.”

“What about the men you brought there?”

“They would not have jeopardized the treaty so it did not matter.” He took her hand “You put me to shame the day I got your letter. I really was ready to give up everything. I didn’t care, even after I heard the king was dead. I actually thought James might let me out of the treaty. Then your letter came and I realized I was half a man and you dear lady made me whole.”

“But how did your father get here so fast?”

“He was already on his way to press my marriage. I sent Henry to slow him down.” Richard grinned at her. “Samantha will you marry me?”

“One condition.”

“What would that be?”

“No more secrets.”

“I do have a surprise for you.”

“You always have the best surprises.” She agreed.

Richard escorted Samantha into the main hall where their families were waiting. He introduced her to his father before addressing James. “We wish to marry by the end of the month.”

James was astonished “Sam?” she nodded happily “All right we’ll start the preparations at once.” He said before looking to his wife.

 

Church bells rang as they rushed from the church and climbed into the waiting coach. Samantha took Richard’s arm and snuggled into his shoulder for the long ride back to the summer house; her house. The home she’d lovingly decorated for another woman or at least she thought she had. Her only regret was that the bridal chamber would not be finished. At least Richard swore he had not peeked.

The scene at home was very different now. The staff had tripled in size and banners adorned the front walls. The door was opened for her and the hall was as she remembered. Henry greeted them warmly and led them to dinner. Heddy had outdone herself with eight courses of fine French food. That and the wine were making Samantha sleepy yet she did not want to sleep.

She and Richard walked arm in arm to the bridal chamber and her heart pounded in her ears. “We’ll open it together.” He said to her with his most charming smile. She nodded and placed a hand on the door. Inside the candelabras were lit and everything was just as she left it, except the curtains were finished and hung. Heddy must have seen to it after she left. Then she noticed the bed the shears she so tediously stitched gold vines on were finished and hung as well. The covers too had been stitched to match. Across the room hung the guilt mirror she’d bought the first time Richard proposed. It hung exactly where it should. “Heddy and Henry saw to its completion. I must say this is my favorite room.”

“Mine too.” She smiled.

“Is this why you switched my bed?”

“Well, you did pick it out,” She put her arms around him “and now you have it back.” They kissed a long moment before Richard crossed the room and shut the door.

Finding Peace ∼ a short story part 2

After the furniture maker left the next afternoon Count Vincent asked Meredith to go for a ride with him. She agreed happily and went ahead to get the stable boys to prepare the horses. Henry stopped the count in the halls. “My lord, Meredith is a young lady you hired.”
“I know Henry.”

“A very lovely young lady my lord, but a servant none the less.”

“Thank you Henry. Have you arranged for new dresses yet?” Henry nodded in reply as the count marched off.

 

The next morning Count Vincent and Meredith went for a walk around the grounds. He wanted to add more gardens but didn’t know what or where to add. Meredith suggested several flowers with meaning and an herb garden for cooking and medicinal value. He asked if she knew anything about gardening but she did not.

He looked at her a long moment “There’s more to you than you admit Meredith. Why did you run away?”

“My lord, why not ask what you really want to know?” He stared at her “I’ll save you the trouble. I will not tell you from where or why I came my lord. My secrets are mine to keep.”  She said as she went inside.

That afternoon a gardener was sent for and plans were drawn up for three new gardens. Meredith’s new dresses arrived as well and the count made it a point to stop by the kitchen to see her while she cooked dinner. Hetty the old cook Henry hired shooed him out scolding him in French. Meredith was laughing. She apparently spoke French. He did as well but it surprised him that she did too.

Friday they went to the market just as they planned. Meredith had a field day in the rows of stands selling cloth. With a little help they purchased enough material to get a start on covers for the main rooms and matching curtains. When they arrived home three women waited to help Meredith with the sewing. She left the draperies to them and wanted to start on the covers but the count insisted they go for a ride.

The rugs they purchased arrived and the house began feeling like a home. Every week another piece was added and another servant was hired or let go as needed. After the count finished working or attending other matters in the morning he stole Meredith away in the afternoon. They would go riding or for walks and lately he began teaching her to fence. Their worst sport though was playing tricks on Henry. The count insisted he did the same when he was a boy and was merely picking up where he left off. Meredith was torn she liked Henry but she also enjoyed the game.

One morning Count Vincent was on his way to meet Meredith when Henry stopped him in the hall. “My lord you did not hire Miss Meredith to be your playmate.”

“Henry,” Vincent scoffed.

“Sir, she is a servant your father would be most distressed if he knew what were going on especially given your circumstance. The young lady has been here two years and still has not put this house to right.”

“It looks great Henry.”

“My lord have you forgotten the Bridal Chamber?”

“No I have not, she’ll finish it when she’s ready.” Vincent was suddenly in a less forgiving mood.

“Have you even seen it?”

“I promised her I would not until it was finished.” Vincent sighed “Henry please it will be fine look at what she’s done with the rest of house. It’s beautiful.”

“Just like her I’m sure.” Vincent gave him a cross look “My lord I’m only saying this for your own good. Get her to finish the room and send her away.”

“Henry I’m surprised at you. She’s a friend just like you.” Henry didn’t look convinced. “Are you saying that a boy and a girl can’t be friends?”

“My lord I am only saying that Miss Meredith grows lovelier everyday to all of us in so many ways.”

 

The count was walking back from the library one evening when he heard music from a room down the hall. The door was ajar and Meredith was inside. She sat in a chair playing a lute and sang in Italian. He listened at the door a moment before stepping inside. She stopped at once and stood up. “My lord I’m sorry to have disturbed you.”

“You did not disturb me. I heard music and came to investigate. What song were you singing?”

“I don’t know some folk song my lord.”

“In Italian?”

“Is it my lord I did not know.”

“Where did you learn to play?”

“A friend taught me.”

The count looked around the room considering what she’d said “I have never been in this room.”

“Do you like it? Every lady should have a music room.”

“Of course, will you sing me another?”

“My lord I really should get back to my sewing.”

“Just one, I promise not to tell Henry.”

“Any requests my lord?”

“Something a little more lively.” Vincent sat in a chair across from her as she strummed up a tune.

Meredith was in the kitchen up to her elbows in dough laughing with Heddy when the count found her. Three men followed him in. It surprised her to see him accompanied by others. They were all about his age and handsome but they knew it which made them swagger. Meredith rolled her eyes and concentrated on her work. “There she is I told you she was real enough. Who else but a lovely young woman could set a house to right?” the count said to his friends. “Meredith this is Matthew, John, and Alexander; duke, duke and count.” Meredith looked up politely wiping away a stray hair with the back of her hand and in the process spreading flour over her cheeks.

“My lords forgive me I seem to have my hands full.”

Alexander smiled at her “Of course, Vincent tells us that you are quite the song bird would you sing for us this afternoon?”

“I’m sorry my lord but I have to go to market.”

“Surely Heddy can go.” Vincent offered.

Meredith turned to him “My lord it’s for the last room.”

“Very well,” he looked to his disappointed friends. “Perhaps another time then, come gentlemen let us finish our business.”

Meredith returned from the market that evening ready to attend her sewing and was surprised to see the table set in the dining room. She stepped inside and the doors closed behind her. Vincent smiled at her. “My lord what is the meaning of this?”

“Dinner,”

“But sir,”

“Meredith you’ve been avoiding me for weeks its just dinner.” She nodded finally pulling off her wrap.

“You did not buy anything?”

“I can not find what I am looking for.” He nodded and pulled out a chair for her.

After that evening she avoided more dinners with Vincent but he would sit where ever she was sewing or working. She found it hard to slip away to play the lute in the music room and missed it terribly. She thought about letting him listen but knew it wouldn’t be proper. Henry would put a stop to it but he had been absent lately. Her only option was to finish the room and search for other employment.

Henry stopped Meredith in the halls and nearly scared the wits out of the girl. She looked at him incredulously. “Where have you been?”

“The count sent me on an urgent errand. Miss Meredith there is something I must ask.” He pulled her into a spare bedroom and shut the door. “I’m afraid I must ask you to leave.”

“I can’t Henry the last room isn’t done.”

“But you told me two months ago it was nearly done.”

“Yes but then I started over.”

“You what? Why?”

“Henry I heard what you said to the Count he’s getting married.” Henry nodded. “He wouldn’t have liked the room I started before but this one is perfect for newlyweds. Henry I need your help. You have to get him out of the house for a day so we can switch some furniture and we need some men to do the lifting. Then I need you to be our chaperone.”

“I was afraid of this.”

“Henry its not me I swear, he is handsome and charming but it would never work. Oh God Henry please.”

“Of course I will Meredith.”

“I will leave as soon as I can.”

“This is your home too, you could come back once he was married.”

“No I can’t,” Meredith turned and walked away.

 

Vincent went hunting three days later and men came in from town to move furniture. Meredith switched out the beds from one room and furnishings from other rooms. The curtains had already arrived two days ago and were hung. The maids helped with the other décor in the room and put the other rooms back together. Meredith eyed over the Bridal Chamber but something was still missing. Henry seemed pleased but she couldn’t let it go. She closed the doors and went to one of the other bed rooms they’d rearranged.

This room received the linens she’d originally furnished the bridal chamber in. Peach drapes with sage green tassels. Red rugs with gold lattice, it was lovely. She sat on the window seat and picked up the lute from where’d she’d hidden it. She strummed a soft tune thinking about the other room. Then she knew what it needed.

Meredith sat by the window with yards of light blue fabric draped over her lap as she diligently stitched tiny gold vines. The count entered the room and looked at her “What are you up to?”

“A surprise my lord.” She smiled before returning to her stitching.

“Will you come for a ride?”

“I have too much work to do my lord.” He nodded and left.

That evening Meredith sat by the fire still stitching. “Meredith stop you’ll go blind.” The count took the fabric from her lap and draped it over the back of an adjacent chair. “I have something for you.”

“For me, my lord?” he nodded and threw a shawl around her shoulders. It was lined with silk and felt cool against her skin. She’d almost forgotten the cool elegance. She ran a hand over the outside and realized it was fur. “My lord I can not accept this.”

“Don’t you like it? Their the foxes I got a few days ago.”

“It’s much too expensive.”

“Then you can earn it.” He handed her the lute. “Sing me a song.”

“I…” she looked around and noticed Henry in the shadows. “Only one but I still can’t accept this.”

“Well I won’t take it back.”

 

Meredith continued her stitching and the count continued to try to see her. She kept making excuses not to be alone with him but soon found it increasingly hard to convince herself that’s what she wanted. One evening the count appeared with a book. He read quietly until Henry left for bed. Vincent looked to Meredith “Will you tell me why you ran away now Meredith?”

“My secrets are mine just as yours are yours my lord.”

“I want to show you something Meredith will you come with me if I promise to behave?”  Meredith set aside her sewing. She glanced for Henry secretly glad he’d gone to bed. The count took her elbow but not her arm. Meredith was actually disappointed and made it a point to scold herself.

Vincent stopped in front of a door and removed a candle from the wall sconce before opening it. He motioned Meredith in and followed. He lit several more candles inside; it was the room Meredith furnished with peach linens. “Why are we here?”

“I was roaming through the halls and noticed this room changed.”

“I decided I didn’t like it my lord.”

“And is this more suiting?”

“Oh it’s quite lovely.” She said happily. In fact it was nearly her favorite room. Vincent crossed the room and picked up the lute from the window seat.

“Apparently you like it a lot.”

“My lord forgive me. It’s just that you know I play in the music room and its not appropriate that I play for you. But sometimes it helps me to think and I…”

“Meredith it’s all right, really, I was thinking no one sleeps here and it’s a waste of a beautiful room. I want this to be your room.”

“No,” Vincent stared at her “my lord I am a servant I can not.”

“What can it hurt Meredith, Henry has a room near mine.”

“So he can serve you my lord.”

“Please Meredith, even if I don’t know who you really are I know you were not always a servant. Take this room you may play here all you wish and I will not bother you.” Meredith finally relented. Not only could she play there but she could sew as well and finally have a refuge from the count.

Three nights of sewing alone in her room nearly drove Meredith crazy. She hated to admit it but she missed the count. After dinner the fourth night she sewed in the main room. Vincent read quietly all night with out a word. Henry left to prepare the counts room and Meredith got up to leave as well. “Good night my lord.”

“Vincent,”

“My lord?”

My name is Vincent,” Meredith smiled and went to her room.

 

After lunch Meredith’s eyes needed a break so she went for a walk with Vincent. They kept their distance but talked the entire time. Henry followed but didn’t hear their conversation.  They started going for walks every afternoon and it made Meredith’s sewing faster. Her stitches were neater and finer. The days were flying by now and spring was approaching. Things between she and Vincent were back to normal and she was able to forget that awful day when she heard Henry and Vincent talking. There was something more though something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

 

Meredith greeted the coachman warmly when he arrived to pick her up from the market. He smiled and nodded before opening the door. “My lord,” Meredith gasped when she saw Vincent inside “but where’s Henry?”

“On an urgent errand I’m afraid.” He helped her inside setting her package off to the side. Meredith arranged her skirt and pulled the blanket over her lap. “Heddy’s making a delightful meal, would you join me if I promise to behave?”

“I will my lord.”

“Vincent,” he corrected. Meredith looked to the blanket in her lap.

The count was right Heddy made a scrumptious five course meal that took most of the evening and all topics of conversation to finish. Towards the end of desert Vincent moved to the chair beside Meredith and sat down. He took her hand in his. “You promised to behave.” Meredith said quietly looking at his hand.

“Meredith please, I have given this a lot of thought. You would make me so happy if you would marry me.”

“Why would you say such a thing?” she asked and got up from the table. Before he could reply she left.

Meredith avoided Vincent the next morning but found him very distraught in the library after lunch. He brightened a little at seeing her. Meredith closed the door behind her. “Is Henry here?”

“No we are alone.”

Meredith nodded she pulled the chair beside his a little closer to him. “I am sorry for the way I reacted last night. It is just that I promised myself since I was little that I would not marry. I wanted always to remain strong and independent.”

“You could never be less. I was right when I guessed you were not always a servant?” Meredith nodded. “A lady of breeding, a duchess or a countess?”

“That is irrelevant.”

“But don’t you see that it is not?”

“Vincent it is, you are engaged to another.”

“How did you know?”

“I overheard you and Henry. This is to be your home.”

“I would rather it were our home. Meredith I have never even met her.”

“It is still irrelevant the reason I ran away is because I too am engaged to someone I never met.”

“Then let them marry each other.”

Meredith laughed lightly. “I am afraid my suitor can not be put off so easily.”

“Tell me who it is I will take care of it.” Meredith looked at him as he took her hand “Please Meredith I would give up everything I have to be with you.” Meredith realized then just how serious he was. He pulled her close and kissed her gently “We could run away together. They would never find us.” Meredith tried to speak but he stopped her “Just think about it please.”

Meredith went back to her room and tried to play hoping to clear her head but her thoughts were too jumbled to find the notes. She tried to sew but the stitches came out uneven. She went to the kitchen instead to speak with Heddy but somewhere along the way she already made a decision. She took the shopping list and her shawl and slipped out the door.

Vincent came home late that evening. The whole kingdom was in an uproar. He rushed to find Meredith wondering if she’d heard the bad news. She was in her room sobbing face down into her pillows. “Meredith are you all right?” he sat down on the edge of the bed and put his hand on the small of her back. “I know it is horrible news. I can hardly believe it myself. He was such a good man the entire kingdom is in shock.”

“The kingdom? What has happened?” she asked lifting her head.

“The king, King Edward died this morning. But you did not know? Why were you crying?” she sobbed horribly again.

“My father is dead.” She sobbed even harder. “I went to the market, my father is dead, his servant told me.” She took a deep breath “funeral is in a few days.” She sobbed again “I must go.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No you must go to the king’s service or you will be missed. I will send word when I can.” She dried her eyes with her handkerchief and sat up.

“Don’t you think you should wait till morning?”

“I’ve been gone long enough besides my coach should be here soon.”

“Take mine.”

“And have my brother hunt you down?” she shook her head grimly. He got up and she followed. She straightened her dress and hair in the mirror “What a mess.” She sighed.

“Still beautiful.” She moved for her bag but Vincent took it instead. “Maybe this will change your situation.”

“Maybe,” she replied but didn’t believe it. She put her fox wrap around her shoulders. “Thank you for your kindness Vincent.” He kissed her quickly before she opened the door and took the bag.

 

Poppy’s Proposal

Poppy’s Proposal written by Gav Ough is like reading a romantic comedy. It was a quick fun read about a young woman trying to find the right guy. At first Poppy is lost and unsure of herself. She is stuck in a dead end job and has no clue where to go or how to do it. Jealous of her best friend she is left feeling guilty and lonely.

Then she thinks she found Mr Right. Or was it two Mr Rights? Stuck between two guys Poppy can’t choose just one. Eventually Poppy gets her Mr right and her dream job. There’s a few twists and turns along the way that keeps you turning pages  and wanting more. The ending was satisfying if a tad predictable but it was a chic lit book so all is forgiven we like happy endings.

The only flaw I found in the book could very well be a culture gap. The book was set in the UK and I am from the US. Poppy is judged very harshly when she dated two men. Neither of which were serious or even sexual relationships. While its not the best of ideas even here I doubt the treatment she would have received would be so harsh. It could also be that the author is a man and I don’t understand a man’s brain.

Overall the book was well written and enjoyable. I don’t normally read chic lit and find myself wanting to know what else Gav can come up with.

So I’m giving Poppy’s Proposal 4 out of 5 stars.